I often say that freediving is 90% mental and the rest is in your head. I have lost count of the times when an overweight, unfit, yet the relaxed person has zoomed comfortably and easily past a superfit yet anxious person who is struggling to get a few metres deep and then bolting back to the surface.
Creative visualisation is incredibly powerful as the brain cannot distinguish between thinking about an act and actually doing it. Allow time to visualise your diving when you are relaxed and not likely to be disturbed. Progressive muscle relaxation, whereby you tense and relax each part of the body, in turn, is a good preparation.
When you visualise your dive, imagine every sense and see yourself at the centre of the visualisation happy and relaxed. Make sure you take your time to cover every aspect of your dive, from pre-dive procedures to smiles and congratulations afterwards.
Training for recreational freediving takes in everything from general fitness and diet, to breath hold training and the ability to rest and relax. Ensure you work with an instructor to create a program for you that is safe and tailored to your unique abilities and needs.
Recovery and Rest
With all physical training for freediving, your muscles are working hard – often under anaerobic conditions. This produces large amounts of waste products and free radicals. It is important that you drink plenty of water after exercise, eat foods high in antioxidants and rest well. Your food is your fuel and your medicine. The better the food you put in, the better results you will get out and the more resilient you will be. We will look at a freediving diet in a later article.
Rest is just as important, ensuring you do not get burnt out and become susceptible to illness and disease. Take time out to relax, make sure you get at least eight hours of sleep a night and find time to do things that fill your heart with joy. Training for freediving should be a pleasure, not a chore. If it is not, look at your schedule and make sure you allow yourself enough downtime.
Freediving is about inward power, discipline and control. If you’ve always wanted to enter the underwater world quietly, on your own terms, staying as long as your breath allows, then freediving is for you.